an excerpt from

Ode to Berlin

lyrical impressions of the German capital’s many layers

an excerpt from

Ode to Berlin

lyrical impressions of the German capital’s many layers

words Richard Aslan
photos Klara Yoon

The awnings of the Tuesday market clutter the banks of the canal in gossipy huddles of yellow, red, and dirty white. Thin and dapper as always in a quilted jacket, he piles oranges in pyramids from cardboard crates on the cobbles, builds leafy wreaths of parsley, coriander, mint for endless cups of tea. Dark skin, a pencil moustache. “Hello! How are you today?” His English is as elegant as his long-fingered hands, with the tongue-curled T’s and corpulent R’s of Karachi. His smile only falters if I forget our linguistic complicity and address him in German. His colleagues are Turkish, like the men selling batteries, bike-lights, bundles of plastic utensils. Like the chicken seller with his baggies of necks and livers, his flying cleaver and his sharp tongue. The spice sellers with their 100-gramme packets arranged according to colour. The women who ladle thick, red stews into polystyrene bowls for hungry tourists. Impatient elbows press when the prices are better at the end of the day. Shopping trolleys run over toes. Children are rocked to sleep over peaches tumbling into the gutter.

The awnings of the Tuesday market clutter the banks of the canal in gossipy huddles of yellow, red, and dirty white. Thin and dapper as always in a quilted jacket, he piles oranges in pyramids from cardboard crates on the cobbles, builds leafy wreaths of parsley, coriander, mint for endless cups of tea. Dark skin, a pencil moustache. “Hello! How are you today?” His English is as elegant as his long-fingered hands, with the tongue-curled T’s and corpulent R’s of Karachi. His smile only falters if I forget our linguistic complicity and address him in German. His colleagues are Turkish, like the men selling batteries, bike-lights, bundles of plastic utensils. Like the chicken seller with his baggies of necks and livers, his flying cleaver and his sharp tongue. The spice sellers with their 100-gramme packets arranged according to colour. The women who ladle thick, red stews into polystyrene bowls for hungry tourists. Impatient elbows press when the prices are better at the end of the day. Shopping trolleys run over toes. Children are rocked to sleep over peaches tumbling into the gutter.

ode_to_berlin-klara_yoon-40

You can never get high enough in this city of wide, flat roads. Kreuzberg, Schöneberg, the flak tower in Humboldthain. The only hills are piles of broken concrete, the rubble of bombed-out houses, laced together with tree roots, upholstered with soil packed tight by the feet of weekend runners. Vantage points allow you to peer only into the past. You can only glimpse this city — bound loosely by parkland and wasteland — from ground level. Every few blocks there is a playground. Every corner has its neon-lit Späti. Scratched and scuffed, papered over with posters for parties that last till Monday lunchtime. Queer capital. Federal capital. Asylum.


Find the rest of this piece, along with more of Klara’s remarkable urban photography, in Issue One

You can never get high enough in this city of wide, flat roads. Kreuzberg, Schöneberg, the flak tower in Humboldthain. The only hills are piles of broken concrete, the rubble of bombed-out houses, laced together with tree roots, upholstered with soil packed tight by the feet of weekend runners. Vantage points allow you to peer only into the past. You can only glimpse this city — bound loosely by parkland and wasteland — from ground level. Every few blocks there is a playground. Every corner has its neon-lit Späti. Scratched and scuffed, papered over with posters for parties that last till Monday lunchtime. Queer capital. Federal capital. Asylum.


Find the rest of this piece, along with more of Klara’s remarkable urban photography, in Issue One

© 2018 Perfect Strangers LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Website by Foreign Policy Design Group

© 2018 Perfect Strangers LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Website by Foreign Policy Design Group

perf_social_instagram_new